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Football Lookahead: Banged up Hundred Squad Heads Into Pine Grove

September 12, 2013
By TRACY WATSON , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

PINE GROVE - Playing its third consecutive home game to open the season, focus will need to be a huge part of the game plan for Valley on Friday night as the Lumberjacks' welcome Wetzel County rival Hundred to Tom West Field.

After all, Valley is coming off a tough 26-9 loss to Cameron in which West's squad was banged up a little bit. Add to that the fact that the 'Jacks will begin a three-game road swing next week that includes a game against a pair of West Virginia Class-A powers in Notre Dame and Clay-Battelle.

However, when push comes to shove, West's crew may get an extra week to prepare for their two big upcoming games. As of late Tuesday evening, Hornets coach Rex Rush said that he is still evaluating whether or not he will have enough kids to even make the trip to Pine Grove.

"We are hoping to be there and play well, but I have had a few kids quit the team this week and our numbers are real low right now," he said. "The situation is being monitored and I hope to know as soon as possible if the game will happen."

West watched his team fall behind 14-0 at the half against the Dragons, only to rally for nine third-quarter points to get right back into the thick of the game before the visitors put things away in the final 12 minutes.

The good news was the continued emergence of 6-foot, 235-pound junior back Peyton Palmer, who carried the load against Cameron with 29 rushes for 134 yards. But Palmer will need help as the rest of the Lumberjacks accounted for just 81 yards on the ground while quarterback Triston Kocher completed 1 of 9 passing attempts for 13 yards and a pair of interceptions.

"Peyton is really turning into a good one," West said. "But I think there are times we need to get him off the field and get a little rest, so we have decided to also use sophomore Kale Lloyd in that role. Kale is a hard runner and that will give Peyton a chance to catch his breath and also hopefully open up a few more holes for our tailback (Trey Streets).

"We had some injuries last week against Cameron which I felt really hurt us, but it looks like everyone is going to be all right and ready to play on Friday. You know, I really don't think we should have lost that game, we made some mistakes that really hurt us, but I think we also discovered some things about ourselves that we may not have realized if things didn't turn out the way they did."

Hundred is dealing with injury issues of its own and the status of the twin Armstrong brothers, juniors Brandon (quarterback) and Courtland (receiver, back-up quarterback) are an issue coming into this week.

The Hornets, who are in search of their first victory since the last half of the 2010 campaign, dropped their opener to Montcalm before being dismantled 46-0 by a Hannan team last week that the Lumberjacks dominated in their opener.

"I think they have a little bit of a tough situation out there right now with some big issues," West said. "But we will show up Friday and our main goal will just be to go out and a win another football game."

While planning for the 'Jacks, Rush's biggest concern has been with Valley's speed and strength.

"They are always a very hard-nosed team with an awful lot of fast kids and some pretty good linemen," he said. "They are just a quality club."

Valley has dominated the series recently. Hundred's last victory against the Lumberjacks was a 42-30 decision in 2008.

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